One particular principle of parenting keeps coming back to me over and over again – Be Purposeful! Children are not going to learn about and become more like Christ by accident. So, we have to ask those important questions.
One significant question is this: How does our culture today see children and when do they become adults? The answer will influence our children whether we want it to or not, so we must be ready to respond (purposeful parenting).
First, children are seen as children until they become teenagers, whereas they are then seen as reckless, frivolous, moody individuals who need to sleep most of the day and slam doors. I have heard countless times the phrase, “Well, she’s a teenager,” or “What do you expect? I’m a teenager.” It has become a right to act inappropriately and then to blame it on age. Teenagers, to a great degree, fulfill what they are told is their role. Not that long ago there was not a concept of “teenager”. Children were treated as children, and then became young men and women who were expected to behave with responsibility, fulfilling their role in their household or family business. Is this concept of “teenager” a healthy concept?
Second, rights of passage, or coming of age ceremonies are no longer in place to mark transitions from childhood to adulthood. I remember being 30 years old with multiple children and someone asking me the question, “When did you become an adult?” I responded, “I guess I am now. I’ve been married a while, have children…I guess I am an adult…” But I couldn’t say when that happened.
Rights of passage were used to make it clear in the person’s mind that he or she could no longer behave in a childish way. He was now part of a “different club” and was expected to take on new responsibilities. Men would gather in a boy coming of age and teach him how to be a man. Women would take a girl under their wing and teach them what it means to be a woman. They went from “child” to “young adult” with responsibilities and expectations.
Presently, roles are confused; people feel lost. They have no purpose, no identification with who God has made them. We feel that part of that is because men and women are treated as children up to and through college and that there are no clear expectations or transitions.
What can we do as parents to counter this?
Our house church has made some decisions concerning these issues and I am excited to see how things are turning out. I will write more about the specifics in the next article.